By Jay Cook |
Rising sea levels through the next century may have Two River area residents concerned, but now they can have a role in mitigating any future damages.
Stemming from a late February workshop in Red Bank, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) launched an interactive web mapping tool last week for homeowners, business owners, and officials alike to identify areas of interest in 15 Two River area towns so education and flood prevention tactics can soon follow.
The web project comes from the NJ Fostering Regional Adaption through Municipal Economic Scenarios (FRAMES) initiative, funded by a nearly $900,000 grant from the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Towns included in the NJ FRAMES program are Eatontown, Fair Haven, Highlands, Little Silver, Long Branch, Middletown, Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, Ocean Township, Red Bank, Rumson, Sea Bright, Shrewsbury, Tinton Falls and West Long Branch.
Residents living in those towns now have the ability to sign onto the associated website, www.TwoRiversOneFuture.nj.gov, and explore an interactive map with predetermined areas of interest – police stations, fire stations, municipal buildings, to name a few.
They can also drop pins on other places with local significance, like a popular business, a little league baseball field, or a beloved outdoor concert venue along the water.
“While we have collected plenty of great data on at-risk areas in these communities, this effort will help ensure we are focusing our efforts on the right places, and those that matter most to residents,” said Ginger Kopkash, DEP’s assistant commissioner for land use, in a news release.
She said DEP could implement different flood mitigation methods along the Atlantic Ocean coast, as well as the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers. Those methods could be “green infrastructure, living shorelines and hardening of critical infrastructure that would better protect these places and their surrounding neighborhoods,” Kopash said.
Working with residents has been the crux of this campaign, something that NJ FRAMES management said they set out to do from the start.
“I think the important thing about getting the public involved is that they were the ones affected by the storm, and have had varying success in recovery from it as well, up and down the shore,” said Liz Semple, DEP manager of the coastal and land use planning office, at the Feb. 23 open house at the Two River Theater.
The interactive map also overlays varying degrees of anticipated rising tide growth by the year 2100. According to an NJ FRAMES report in June, the likely range for sea level rise is 1.7 feet to 3.1 feet, with low emissions. With high emissions, that range expands to 2.4 feet to 4.5 feet.
Using the interactive tool provided by NJ FRAMES, a 3-foot sea level rise would provide for significant changes to the Two River area.
Most of the downtown business district in Highlands would be under water, spanning from Gravelly Point Road to Veterans Memorial Park.
Numerous waterfront residences in Rumson, Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, and Little Silver, along the shores of the Shrewsbury River, could all be subject to flooding.
Shrewsbury River marinas, restaurants, and homes along Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright could also possibly be affected by rising water levels.
NJ FRAMES’ team will be meeting with residents and businesses over the next week to gather additional input for the project: Thursdays by the Sea, Long Branch, Aug. 10; Sounds at Sunset, Fair Haven, Aug. 11; Red Bank Community Block Party, Aug. 12; West End Farmer’s Market, Long Branch, Aug. 17; and Coffee Hour at Booskerdoo Coffee & Baking Co., Monmouth Beach, Aug. 18.
This article was first published in the August 10-17, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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